The Music Maker special exhibit We Are the Music Makers: Preserving the Soul of America’s Music was displayed at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in 2016.
“Birthplace of Country Music celebrates the origins of our nation’s music, a mission that has always been close to my heart,” said Duffy. “I am so proud to partner with them again to bring attention to the musicians in this exhibition. It is unheralded artists living in small communities throughout the South that have created the deep aquifer of American roots music that contemporary musicians from all over the world drink from daily.”
Duffy has been photographing musicians in the South for 35 years. The OurLivingPast exhibit features portraits of artists and still lifes of Southern scenes in the form of 25 palladium prints created from Duffy’s wet-plate photographs. Artists like the late, great soul singer Sharon Jones, slide guitar virtuoso Derek Trucks, and blues legend Taj Mahal appear in the exhibit alongside those of lesser-known blues and gospel artists Dr. Dixon, Algia Mae Hinton, and Lena Mae Perry. A portrait of traditional roots singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Martha Spencer is also included in the exhibit. Spencer is a native of Southwest Virginia who tours internationally with her authentic brand of Appalachian music; she also regularly performs at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, returning this September as part of the trio The Blue Ridge Girls.
“The museum worked with the Music Maker Relief Foundation several years ago, and we love the work they do to support roots musicians, amplify their voices, and bring their music and experiences to new audiences,” said Head Curator René Rodgers. “I think that our visitors will really enjoy the OurLivingPast exhibit – the images draw you in to the musicians’ world and the way that Duffy captures their gaze seems to exemplify the saying that ‘the eyes are the windows to the soul.’ We are also excited to be able to share some of the folk art pieces created by Music Maker artists as they bring color and vibrancy to the black-and-white images on display.”
These striking and evocative images offer a glimpse into the rich historical narrative and vital culture of Southern traditional music. Duffy’s life work – to preserve that culture – now takes on a tangible form through OurLivingPastand works to ensure that these important living links to our history get the recognition they deserve.
Related programming to the special exhibit will include an interview with Music Maker Relief Foundation co-founder Denise Duffy on the WBCM Radio Bristol program Museum Talk with Rene & Scotty on Thursday, April 29 at noon EDT and a Virtual Speaker Series presentation by Tim Duffy on Tuesday, July 6 at 7:00 p.m. EDT. Radio Bristol can be accessed on the air in the Bristol area at 100.1 FM, and the show will stream live online at ListenRadioBristol.org and through the station’s free mobile app.
About Music Maker Relief Foundation
The Music Maker Relief Foundation was founded to preserve the musical traditions of the South by directly supporting the musicians who make it, ensuring their voices will not be silenced by poverty and time. Music Maker gives future generations access to their heritage through documentation and performance programs that build knowledge and appreciation of America’s musical traditions. For more information about the nonprofit visit MusicMaker.org.
About Birthplace of Country Music Museum
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, explores the history of the 1927 Bristol Sessions and their lasting impact on our music heritage. From the Bristol Sessions and beyond, ourregion continues to influence music around the world.
The museum is located at 101 Country Music Way (corner of Moore & Cumberland Streets) in Historic Downtown Bristol, Virginia. Through multiple theater experiences, film and sound, and interactive, technology-infused displays – along with a variety of educational programs, music programs, and community events – the exciting story of this music and its far-reaching influence comes alive. Rotating exhibitions from other organizations and institutions, including the Smithsonian, are featured throughout the year in the Special Exhibits Gallery. The museum is also home to a digital archive.
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays and most major holidays; call ahead for clarification at 423-573-1927.